Gibson Dunn makes quartet of partner-level private equity hires from Sidley and Linklaters in London

LA firm continues UK push; joining as partners are two Sidley partners and senior associates from Sidley and Linklaters

Wim De Vlieger (l) and Till Lefranc Images courtesy of Gibson Dunn

Gibson Dunn has added a private equity partner duo in London from US rival Sidley Austin as part of a quartet of partner-level hires as it forges ahead with London growth plans.

Partners Till Lefranc and Wim De Vlieger have moved over from Sidley, along with newly-minted partner Isabel Berger. The firm has also hired Linklaters capital markets and leveraged finance senior associate Hugo Hernández-Mancha as a partner.

De Vlieger will serve as Gibson’s co-head of private equity in Europe with Federico Fruhbeck, who joined the firm in October from Vinson & Elkins alongside partners Robert Dixon and Alice Brogi. 

“We are excited to welcome our new colleagues,” said Fruhbeck. “All four lawyers have impressive transactional track records representing high-profile, marquee private equity clients. They will provide a springboard for continued investment in our London, European and Asian transactional practices.”

The arrival of seven private equity partners signals a renewed drive by the firm to build a London team commensurate in size to its US practice. While a top 12 US firm by revenue, its London arm sits in 27th place in the The Lawyer's US Law Firms in London ranking

Since last year, Gibson's London office lost its chair, former Ashurst senior partner Charlie Geffen, along with fellow heavyhitters Nigel Stacey and Jonathan Earle. All three joined Gibson Dunn during 2014 as part of a concerted push to bring in star talent for its London office.

De Vlieger, who will also co-chair Gibson’s emerging companies practice group, joined Sidley as a partner four years ago after a decade at US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in London. He overlapped at Simpson with Fruhbeck and Lefranc, the latter of whom spent almost nine years there before joining Sidley as a partner in 2017.

De Vlieger advises private equity investors and their portfolio companies on corporate transactions including growth equity and control investments, buy-out transactions, M&A and exits, while Lefranc focuses on private equity, M&A and capital markets transactions across Europe and also advises private equity sponsors, corporates and banks on US capital markets transactions.

Berger spent five-and-a-half years at Sidley as a senior associate having previously served as a counsel at KKR & Co, a key client of Fruhbeck, De Vlieger and Lefranc. She focuses on leveraged buyouts, minority and majority investments, acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures.

Hernández-Mancha, meanwhile, spent four years at Kirkland & Ellis in Paris before joining Linklaters in London in 2018 as a senior associate. He advises corporate clients, investment banks and private equity sponsors on high yield and acquisition finance transactions.

Penny Madden, co-partner-in-charge of the London office, described the quartet’s arrival on the heels of the trio from Vinson & Elkins as “a transformational step” for the firm’s London corporate practice. 

“They have also developed substantial experience in private equity real estate, which will complement our London and global real estate practice. Their joining caps an exciting year for the London office and we are well primed for the year ahead,” she added.

The hires come amid heated competition for private equity talent as law firms look to profit from a booming transactional market.

Goodwin Procter added a five-partner private equity team from Sidley in September last year that included Erik Dahl, formerly co-leader of Sidley’s global private equity practice.

Then in May, Goodwin expanded its German presence to Munich with the hire of Sidley private equity partner Jan Schinkoth along with an associate. Sidley replenished its London private equity bench in August with the addition of three partners from Vinson & Elkins.

US giant Kirkland & Ellis has also been hiring senior private equity talent in London of late, adding rising star Gregory Scott from Clifford Chance in May followed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Vincent Bergin and Keir MacLennan in October.

The firm also boosted its German private equity offering in October with the hire of Freshfields counsel Dr Hendrik Braun as a partner in Munich.

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